We feel we work with some pretty amazing artists - we always look forward to seeing their new pieces, hearing their stories about the work, and are always excited to introduce their new creations into the gallery - but sometimes, they outdo even themselves and present us with something that simply takes our breath away.
This month, Oglala Lakota artist Kevin Fast Horse wins that award - featuring his signature beadwork, we are proud to introduce this exquisite wolf robe...
The wolf pelt is from Canada is of premium quality. It also has a CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) permit. This means it was obtained by a federally licensed furrier, is approved for exportation, and includes documentation to allow transport.
The piece speaks of the Wolf in the Spirit World as this animal is seen as a very spiritual figure among the Lakota, and are often included in ceremony.
The outer edge of the robe is decorated with beaded representations of several different types of wolf. This illustrates it's traits as a pack animal - it hunts as a team and is committed to the pack (tribe, family) - which are also qualities the Lakota draw upon when hunting and providing for their own families.
Among these beaded representations are images of the buffalo and elk. These are the wolf's natural prey.
The strip of beadwork running down the center of the robe features the wolf's foot prints and a geometric pattern. The foot prints are "spirit tracks" and show the wolf's presence in the spiritual and physical world. The geometric pattern is the artist's symbol of the Great Lakota Nation and indicates the relationship between the wolf and the Lakota people.
The wolf's eyes and nose are also decorated with deer antler buttons, brass beads, crow style pony bead and thin bone pipe to enhance the senses of the wolf (sight and smell) in the Spirit World to insure continued hunting success.
The beadwork on the robe is done in Italian Glass Beads (and according to Kevin, there are over 55,000 of them on this robe!). The earthy tones - browns, greens, yellows - are used to indicate environment of wolf (the prairies and woodlands) and also honor the 4 Directions.
Looking at the back of the robe, it has a beautiful dark dorsal stripe running down its center.
The piece is supported by hand carved hanger bar. At one end of the bar, Kevin has carved a wolf head, and at the other end a claw. Wolf tracks made of brass tacks decorate the middle of the bar and indicates the spiritual path of the wolf.
The takeaway: Beautiful beadwork on a gorgeous hide honoring a fascinating creature and an incredible culture...what an amazing robe!